Lead free options for the California slug hunter

Posted May 11, 2014 by muzzlevelocity in Ammunition

With California set to prohibit the use of lead bullets for hunting state wide by 2019, it behooves the state’s sportsmen and women to start examining lead-free ammo options. For big game hunters using rifles and small game hunters using shotguns, lead-free ammo options are plentiful. Every major ammo manufacturer now produces lead-free, big game loads in most popular rifle rounds and the options for non-lead birdshot loads are seemingly limitless.

Hunters in zones that limit big game hunting to shotgun only, however, have fewer non-lead options. Hunters on WMAs that only allow smooth bore shotguns have even fewer options. Luckily, there are at least a few non-lead slug choices for shotgun hunters packing rifled or smoothbore guns.

Sabot slug options

Hunters using rifled barrel shotguns will have a fairly easy time finding lead free slug ammo. Currently, Remington, Federal, and Winchester offer all copper and hence California compliant slugs. Unfortunately, lead-free sabot slugs are incredibly expensive. Currently, Federal’s 3-3/4-inch 300-grain Vital-Shok load retails for approximately $12 for a box of five ($2.40/round), Remington’s 2-3/4-inch Copper Solid Load retails for approximately $20 for a box of five ($4/round) and Winchesters 2-3/4-inch XPF lead-free sabot retails for approximately $13 for a box of five ($2.60/round). At such prices, just sighting in a slug gun will be an unavoidably expensive exercise.

Lead-free slugs for smoothbores

There are presently two primary options for Golden State slug hunters who by choice or by legal restriction hunt deer with a smoothbore shotgun: Ddupleks slugs and Balle Fleche slugs by Sauvestre.

Ddupleks, an ammo maker based in Riga, Latvia manufactures a number of steel shotgun slugs for 12, 20, and 16-gauges in both 2-3/4-inch and 3-inch options. The company’s Monolit Slugs are of solid steel composition while Dduplek’s Dupo and Hexolit offerings have a pre-fragmented front section bound together by polymer. Depending on impact velocity, the front section will either effectively explode into a shrapnel burst within a target or will open up into something that resembles a miniature saw blade.


Ddupleks expanding slugs are capable of inflicting decisive wounds on game animals.


The second lead-free slug option for smooth bores is the Balle Fleche load manufactured by French ammo maker, Sauvestre. The Balle Fleche is an innovative design that consists of a fin-stabilized cylindrical projectile composed of an undisclosed “non-ferrous” alloy that provides controlled expansion. The sabot that encases the slug allows for firing through a variety of chokes, as well as rifled barrels and choke tubes.


Both Ddupleks and Sauvestre slugs are currently available through century arms international.

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